St. Patrick’s Day Traditions Around the World
From Argentina’s lively street festivals to Auckland’s Emerald Ball, countries worldwide have found numerous ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. In the early 1700’s, Irish immigrants brought the holiday and tradition to the New World (North America) because drinking was banned in Ireland until the 1970’s. Today, there are hundreds of celebrations held around the world in the spirit of conviviality and Irish tradition. Learn more about how world cultures have come to celebrate this festive holiday.
Home to the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in South America, Buenos Aires hosts an annual street festival in the heart of the city. This event features music, dance performances by Celtic Argentina, and lots of beer shared among family and friends.
Sydney, Australia welcomes over 80,000 people every year for the biggest Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in the southern hemisphere and the only celebration outside of Ireland sponsored by the Irish government. This year’s Green Gathering will take place in Prince Alfred Park and feature family activities, crafts from local artisans, marching bands, and Celtic dancers.
On this Caribbean island, St. Patrick’s Day is also the country’s independence day. On March 17, 1768, slaves across Montserrat revolted against their colonial European masters, the majority of which were Irish. This historic uprising is celebrated with a week-long festival, including traditional costumes, dancing, food, and song. The main celebration is the Masquerade, attended by Montserratians decked out in colorful hats and filled with dancing and festivities.
As the largest city in the New Zealand Daylight Time zone, Auckland is always the first to begin the global celebration of St. Patrick’s Day! This year, celebrations will begin even earlier on March 5, with the Auckland Irish Society Fair, followed by the elaborate Emerald Ball at the Pullman Hotel on March 10. Next, the Auckland Gaelic Athletic Association will hold its championships on March 11, and festivities end with a spectacular parade throughout the city on March 12.
Like the emerald Chicago River, the Singapore river is dyed green for the largest St. Patty’s Day celebration in Southeast Asia. Attendees don green and orange costumes, and a motorcycle convoy leads a vibrant parade through the city streets. The St. Patrick’s Society of Singapore also throws an annual ball complete with Irish dancing, live music, and plenty of Irish brew!
A short walk away from one of Istanbul’s most vibrant nightlife streets, the city’s Irish center hosts a lively festival at the James Joyce Pub. Featuring Irish dance, music, traditional Irish dishes such as fried tomatoes and soda bread, and of course, Irish beer, this venue is renowned for its colorful atmosphere and authentic Irish fare.
Whether you’re celebrating in your hometown, or jetting off to join the festivities abroad, have a fun-filled, safe St. Patrick’s Day, and may the luck of the Irish be with you!
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.